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Fire Emblem: Three Houses class system guide

Time to study up

Eldegard pointing in Fire Emblem: Three Houses Intelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo
Russ Frushtick is the director of special projects, and he has been covering the world of video games and technology for over 15 years. He co-founded Polygon in 2012.

Changing classes in Fire Emblem games has always been important, allowing units to unlock new skills and abilities. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is no different, but the class system has been majorly overhauled for this game. If you think it’s as simple as popping an item once someone hits level 20, think again. Here’s everything you need to know about the class system in Fire Emblem: Three Houses.


Most of the units in your chosen house will start out at Nobles or Commoners. This is the bottom rung of the class system, excelling at not much at all.

You’ll quickly hit level 5 with these units, allowing you to re-class them into one of four basic classes. To do that, though, you’ll need two things: a Beginner Seal and the requisite skill level to pass their Certification test.

The Beginner Seal is easily attained. You’ll find a handful of them on enemy units and you can purchase even more from the in-game Marketplace.

The Certification test is trickier.


Teaching Dorothea in Fire Emblem: Three Houses Intelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo

In addition to the level requirement (5 for beginner classes, 10 for intermediate, and so on) and the Seal requirement, you’ll need certain skill levels to pass your Certification test.

As an example, let’s say I want Byleth (the player character) to become a Fighter. Becoming Fighter requires a skill level of D or higher in either Axes, Bows, or Brawling.

Increasing skill levels is simple: The more you use the skill, the more your skill will increase. Even the lowest skill levels can use Training and Iron weapons, allowing you to rank up from the bottom.

The early classes demand little. Passing the requirement of just one of these skills should be enough to guarantee that you pass your Certification test. But higher level classes will be more demanding: the Bow Knight, for example, requires a C rank in Lances and A ranks in both Riding and Bows.

There is some give to this system, though. If you pass the requirements for Riding and Bows, but your Lance skills are poor, you may be given a 70% chance to pass your Certification test. This will save you the headache of having to rank up Lances, but if you fail, you’ll waste the Seal used for that test. Later-game seals can be expensive and rare, so it may not be worth the risk.


the classroom in Fire Emblem: Three Houses Intelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo

None of the basic classes allow for units to use heavy armor, horses, or the flying pegasus. Which begs the question: How do you level up those skills? That’s where your studies come in.

Every week, you will teach all of your units in the classroom. Before teaching them, you can select their goals. Effectively these goals will impact which skills they’ll increase the fastest. So if you want to train someone to be a Cavalier, you’ll want to select Lances and Riding as their skills. You won’t be able to learn Riding experience in combat until you unlock a class with a horse, but the classroom solves this problem, letting you rank up these unused skills with ease.

NOTE: Students will be able to take direct tutoring from you if their motivation meter is high. To ensure a high motivation, head to the cafeteria and have lunch with the students you most want to train.

There are other ways to increase skill levels around the school. Choir practice, for example, will increase the Faith skill (used primarily for White Magic and healing spells). Group Tasks are also handy for increasing Heavy Armor, Riding, and Flying skills. Just pick a pair of students and drop them into one of the three available tasks to have them rank up that skill each week.

Since Byleth is doing the teaching, you may be wondering how you can directly increase Byleth’s skill levels outside of combat. The other teachers around school come in handy here. Each is trained in a handful of skills and will increase the one you select. Seteth is good at Flying, whereas Alois is more focused on melee skills. Every skill is covered by at least one teacher, so it doesn’t hurt to get friendly.


Caspar punching a mage in Fire Emblem: Three Houses Intelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo

In previous Fire Emblem games, it was always a good idea to change classes once you hit the level cap for that class. In Three Houses, there is no class-based level cap, but there is an ideal time to switch classes.

Each class has an exclusive skill or passive ability that you can earn through repeated use of that class.

The Unit Exp meter will fill in small increments as you use a given class in combat. Once it’s completely filled, the unit will learn that class’s exclusive perks. An example: Leveling up the basic Monk class unlocks a passive ability that grants +2 to the unit’s Magic slot and an active ability, Draw Back, which lets you drag a friendly unit backward by one space.

Early classes require less experience to unlock their skills, whereas later ones may take several hours of gameplay time before the meter fills up. It’s worth waiting, though, as later classes tend to have much more powerful unlockables. The Mage class unlocks an ability called Fiendish Blow that increases magic damage by 6 every time your unit initiates an attack. Unfortunately the game doesn’t tell you what you’ll unlock by maxing out a class, so you can either roll the dice or head online for some answers.

NOTE: Some abilities you unlock from classes won’t automatically be equipped, since you can only have five custom abilities at one time. To swap in a different one, select Inventory and scroll down to Abilities. Here you can see all of the abilities that are available for each of your units.


You may find yourself with the requisite skill levels for a much higher class than the one you’re currently at. If you think you can pass the Certification test and you have the required Seal, there’s not a lot of downside in skipping ahead like that. The Three Houses class system is super flexible, allowing you to skip ahead or even change back to previously unlocked classes. You won’t even lose the progress you made toward maxing out that class.

If you’ve made it this far without your brain melting, congrats! There’s a ton to take in with Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and you can really spend hours diving through menus trying to grok this stuff. On the bright side, if you’re just looking to have a good time and enjoy the story, playing on Normal will make the game incredibly easy, letting you ignore most of the super intense nitty gritty features. For the rest of you, now’s a good time to study up.

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